A brief interlude

My recent crankiness, unreliableness and remoteness can all be put down to one cause:


I am like a full on headache-monster. With angry red smoke billowing from my nostrils and everything.

The latest spate started in about October. It’s now July. I am demented. My gut feeling is that it was a sinus infection that set it all off. I don’t go with my head feeling anymore. It tends to lead me down the path of confusion.

I got a cold. A regular cold. As did most of the members of my family. Except, everyone else was blowing their noses and, you know, just generally increasing the value of tissues. Where as, I, only had a slight sore throat and sneezed a couple of times.

Everyone rejoiced, “Mum is fit and well!”

But I panicked, somewhat. I increased my inhalers and bought shares in Sinupret. Because, from past experience, I’m well aware, if it doesn’t stream out of my nose like a gushing river then it either clogs up my lungs or my head.

I continued to breathe easily but I stopped thinking straight.

I shoved sprays up my nose. Washed Sinupret down with gallons of water and rubbed peppermint oil on my temples and forehead.

The latter sometimes served as a welcome distraction, as the oil has a nasty habit of running from the aforementioned forehead into the eye.

And that burns baby.

Enough to make you forget you ever had a headache.

But it lacks longevity. So, it’s by no means a cure.

I fought on with nose showers and steam inhalations and raw garlic.

I am a truly horrible patient. I hate being ill. It stifles my get up and go. And without my get up and go, I’m a right old mess.

So I battled my ‘cold’ and I won. But soon enough I realised that I’d only won a battle and not the war.

I apparently got attacked by one cold virus after another and it seemed like my sinuses got more and more stuffed and the company who make Sinupret had to weaponise me with stronger, more kickass versions of their product.

I knocked back painkillers like an addict. Though I wondered if they did any good at all.

I saw doctors, of course.

They cheered me on in my endeavour and handed me prescriptions that made no difference. At all.

So, I visited a specialist in June, she smeared cold, slimy gel all over my cheekbones and my forehead and told me she could see nothing. At all.

Apart, that is, from a large cyst in the sinus cavity which she reckoned would not be responsible for such continuous pain.

She informed me that there are cavities she was unable to see with her machine and that I would need an MRI.

I asked her for medication. She declined.

I told her Ibuprofen doesn’t seem to help. She said, “No, it wouldn’t.”

We called all the radiologists within 50 miles but none could bang magnetic waves around my head for more than six weeks.

I despaired. I whined. I ordered my husband to learn acupressure from the internet and he, in turn, dented various areas on my head, face and hands. The relief was minute. Even trivial.

I threatened my head, that if it didn’t stop bloody hurting, I would bash it off a wall. It didn’t listen.

There was one other thing that the specialist had mentioned. My neck.

Now, my neck has been a regular source of headaches for me over the years. I’ve repeatedly had physiotherapy. It’s one of the areas I carry my stress, along with my shoulders and my jaw. But also a physio had once told me that the first vertebra in my neck wasn’t sitting correctly, which would lead to me suffering repeatedly from headaches. One of Joni’s friends had been having migraines and had been for a procedure known as ‘AtlasPROfilax‘. Her headaches had been cured but she remained sceptical about the procedure.

For one thing, it costs 220 Euros. That’s £153. Or $238.

But my husband persuaded me.

I was given an appointment, fairly quickly, and my husband drove me there. I had reached the point where I could no longer drive the car. My concentration had gone and I felt like a liability to other drivers.

The first thing that got me excited was the sofa. I kid you not: it was made of recycled cardboard. Here it’s here. Isn’t it brilliant?

It distracted me from my nervousness. For a wee moment. But that was all I needed, because then the physio invited me into his treatment room. I dragged my husband in to assist me with decision making.

During my many years here in Germany I have met many, many doctors, nurses and therapists. But it would be fair to say I’ve never met any quite like this one. He felt, to me, to be more like a salesman than any kind of therapist.

My husband is a pessimist and was also the one carrying the wallet so the holistic ‘healer’ knew he was the one who needed to be convinced.

I was told to stand up and things were pointed out about the way my feet pointed, that one shoulder was higher than the other and the like. If I remember correctly, he also noted that one boob was larger than the other. I’m sure that was the case, because I have a vague memory of wondering how appropriate such talk was. I was living in a land of fuzz and confusion at the time, so I may actually have imagined that part of the conversation.

My husband announced that he couldn’t really notice the minimal difference in shoulder height and that it was regularly the case that one boob would be bigger than the other.

It could be that I attempted to block that last bit out and that is the real cause of my confusion. I am a jealous gal. And I bury my head in the sand about previous relationships my soul mate has had.

The two men chatted on. I was made to lie on the bed, on my tummy, with my legs up in the air. Supposedly a pen was balanced on one of my feet. I turned my head to one side and then the other. My feet moved too, and so the pen was never aligned with the other foot. I didn’t feel anything I just did as I was told and begged inwardly that someone or something would cure my damned headache.

I would describe myself as a realistic optimist. I am an optimist but I also like to be realistic about things. So I glanced around for some sign of science. The healer/physio/car salesman – whatever you want to call him –  showed us the bone, called the atlas, which your head sits on and keeps the rest of your spine aligned (or something like that) with one of those plastic skeletons on a stand that doctors have. He told us, when we are born, it’s already misaligned. He told us that is the case for everyone and that everyone needs to have this procedure done.

Now, I know that I told you that I’m an optimist. But this was the moment when my inner pessimist started to kick in. Everyone? He babbled on about evolution.

That was it. That was the science. The remaining 20 minutes or so, he ‘sold’ us evidence of his healing ability by telling us about various local doctors who, along with their families, had come for AtlasPROfilax at his clinic. He even dropped in a few names in order to convince us.

I should probably mention that he did also look at my neck for a few seconds.

I asked him what the procedure entailed and to my horror he pulled out a patented tool, which, I thought looked rather like a poking vibrator, and told us, quite excitedly that this tool vibrates (I wasn’t really surprised by that point) which softens the tissue and muscle around the atlas so that it can move into the correct position, from which it can never move again.

Then he asked us a question, befitting a true salesman:

Do you trust me?

Now had I been fit and well…

Had he had a healthy specimen standing there before him…

Had I not been driven to the point of no return by a raging headache…

I could have stomped on his foot, told him to shove his obscure looking vibrator, yelled at my husband to grab the sofa while I nabbed the very cool plastic skeleton (for educational purposes, naturally). In order to to teach him about the consequences of conning all of those doctors and that 91 year old female patient he told us about. And about the importance of data protection.

I wanted to shout, “Why the hell would I trust you? You just broke medical confidentiality! I would be a complete lunatic to trust you!! I don’t want you anywhere near me with your vibration rotation contraption!!! You just insulted my boobs you cocky scoundrel!!!!”

Instead though, I just said, “Do it!”

I was that desperate.

I can tell you there was nothing soft or soothing about the treatment. My neck was intensely beaten by a pokey vibrator. In fact, in the days that followed it was clear to me that I had some internal bruising.

He made me stand again and strangely one of my feet seemed to stand naturally straighter than before. He did the pen test again and apparently, no matter how I turned my head, my feet stayed in the same position and therefore were always aligned with the pen.

I went to the receptionist who insisted on a cash payment. I was given a receipt from a copy book that could have been bought at any stationers.

Which all, of course fuelled my inner and my husband’s outer pessimists.

But within a couple of days my headache was gone.

Gone, I tell you. GONE.

And it stayed away for about two weeks.

Then I caught a bloody cold again.

But I have a free, follow up appointment in two days. And my MRI is now only just over a week away.

I’m feeling distinctly optimistic.

Vibration rotation anyone?




Kate Kresse’s comment:

Good news–i haven’t run into the coffee table in 2 days. but i did open the fridge door right into my head. (duh).

on my last post reminded me of recent events.

Remember my headache? I’ll deviate slightly here, just for information’s sake and inform you that yes, I still have it, and yes, I am demented by now.

No, it’s not as bad as it was. I’ve been having manual therapy, which does something, but nothing seems to remove it completely.

It would seem I’m stuck with it, at least for the moment. I have seen far too many doctors and therapists in the last almost four months. I’ve decided for the foreseeable future I’m going to avoid doctors and therapists completely. Save some money. And battle on through.

The good news is that there is definitely no tumour. I had a CT scan and the neurologist (that would be neurologist number two) told me that my brain is perfect.

That statement, however, made me even more sceptical toward doctors. My brain definitely does not work properly. I regularly forget my children’s names. Lose my keys. Write down a shopping list then don’t bother to take it with me. Find myself standing in the middle of a room wondering why the hell am I here? And then there’s the time I forgot to pull down my knickers before I sat on the loo…

Anyway, back to the lovely Kate’s comment.

In December, a month or so into my headache, I found myself in my kitchen, pretending I didn’t have a headache and attempting to knead dough. OK partly I was kneading, partly I was taking out my frustrations. So much so in fact, that not only my hands were working, but the rest of my body as well. A fact I realized when I lunged my head forward and smacked my forehead against the kitchen cupboard’s metal door handle.

I suspect the resulting bruise would have been nowhere near as bad, if I had not then walked over to another cupboard and opened it whacking it directly against the exact same spot on my poor forehead.

Now you have to remember that at that point I had been heard (quite loudly) complaining about my headache, at every given opportunity.

Thus people from near and far spotted me walking around with a full-on let’s-go-through-the-rainbow-spectrum-of-colours bruise right in the middle of my forehead.

“I wonder why you’ve got a headache?” they felt the need to chortle.

Finally, milk bottle white again, I proceeded with acupuncture.

Which resulted in not one but two bruises, conveniently placed above each eyebrow.

Let’s just say, I became familiar with the term, “It looks like you’ve got horns growing out of your head!”

And my evil good-humoured family launching into fits of hysterics every time they caught a glimpse of me.

November/December Update

My exceedingly long headache has been driving me mad, as you well know, after all, I have been banging on about it, for the best part of November and December. It’s led me to spending far too much time in doctor’s surgeries and far too little time doing housework and washing.

My children are now officially classed as neglected.

Neighbours walk along the river, through the forest, and bounce out-of-the-way of oncoming traffic as they hobble along the cycle path, before carrying their groceries/Christmas shopping/wailing children down the scary steps otherwise known as the back entrance to their homes.

All in an effort to avoid walking by our unpristine house.

I think I saw one brave soul (when I was net-twitching) attempting a quick sprint past. He’d cleverly protected himself with a gas mask…

But even that couldn’t shelter him from the spider web, dangling from the bathroom window. Glistening in the winter sun.

I suspect that is what pushed him over the edge. Into vomiting all over his own patch. I dread to think of the state of that gas mask…

Being a person who likes to be busy, I had to find something other than blogging and reading, listening to the Hoover and wobbling my head around wiping surfaces down, struggling through homework and taxiing around, to do.

I thought just a little bit. Too much thinking with a hurting head helps the head hurting to magnify.

My first thought, naturally, was to find a cure. So I drank water, slept, swallowed pills, and allowed people to stick needles into my head, and other parts of my anatomy.

But my head still hurt.

So then I thought, “A-ha, o-ho!” Distraction is the way to go.

Thus, I put on the telly, with the volume turned down really low. Luckily, I’m not due to have my ears syringed for a while.

And as I was watching, my mind wandered onto my film challenge…

Distraction has led me to working my way through 11 whole films.

  • King of Comedy (An old somewhat freaky film)
  • Salvation Boulevard (Light entertainment)
  • Everything Must Go (Hmmm…)
  • Bad Teacher (Brilliant)
  • ¡Three Amigos! (One from my hubby’s childhood, the five-year-old keeps asking to watch it again and again)
  • Kung Fu Panda 2 (Funny)
  • Our Idiot Brother (Funny)
  • Friends with Benefits (Obvious but funny)
  • Mr Popper’s Penguins (Did you know that Jim Carrey has ADHD?)
  • Into the Wild (Parents can really screw you up)
  • Rumour Has It (I liked it)


I also discovered my headache could be ‘chilled’ by the cold air outside.

So being a fan of the Italians, think Horace rather than  Berlusconi, I decided to take the opportunity. Carpe diem. Seize the day. And took the older girls off to a Medieval Christmas Market. My perseverance saw me rewarded with a chance to complete one of my 101 challenges.


And I found out  that I’m absolutely rubbish at it. My girls could have beaten me while standing on their heads with a blindfold on. I was soooo bad the archer actually looked pained with the need to stifle his own laughter.

I guess it was to be expected. I can’t chuck a javelin more than a meter from where I stand. No matter who shows me. No matter how many chances I’m given.

And that time I threw the ‘discus’ will go down in my school’s history, not only as the shortest distance thrown, but also as the only time the ‘discus’ actually hit the team members sitting behind the thrower.

Still, at least the teacher had thoughtfully exchanged the discus for a beanbag.

Spurred on though, by another challenge being struck off, I marched on with the dreaded task of creosoting the shed. OK, OK, it had to be done. The warped building would never have survived another winter.

So hubby, son and mother made a communal effort.

My head stopped aching in the crisp cold air. The pain moved to my arm instead. Variety is the spice of life, you know.

Being in the mood now, for ticking things off, I went online and purchased two Christmas cookbooks. I’ve called one Delia and the other Gordon. Yes, we’re on first name terms now. In fact, I’ve spent the whole of Christmas flapping around the kitchen calling out shrieking, “Where’s Delia?” Or, wailing “Where’s Gordon?”

Christmas has been low-level in the headache stakes and high level in recipe attempts: a very tomatoey Tomatoe Tart, delicious Home-made Truffles, Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Syrup (so good, I’ve already prepared them twice), the divine Scallops with  a Caper, Raisin and Olive Vinaigrette, a crappy Watercress Puree, a fantastic Truffle Mash, and Lasagna al forno the penultimate because it took me six whole hours to cook it. Of course, as soon as they’d stuffed themselves, the children asked, “Could you make that again, Mum?” 😮

My conscience is getting the better of me at the moment. I feel I have to say I may have exaggerated slightly, at the start of this post. I have still been taxiing around. I’ve enrolled Akasha in a ballet class.

But it’s all in a good cause. Another challenge achieved.

It has been two months since my last official update, so to the above I can also add: two new restaurants have been conquered visited (one during a birthday party and one on holiday – both before the headache marathon).

I’ve also stuck to my one date a month promise with my husband.

And I’ve remembered that I forgot to tell you, away back in October, that we nailed the Bronze Age Museum.

Plus, my husband stepped in with the fitness challenge – he purchased me (oh, he’s an adorable man) a cross trainer. It means that I can train as much as I like, whenever I like and I’ve decided to set my challenge as 1001km. As I’m around a third way through my 1001 days it means a little more than 1km per day. I wanted to put in what seems to me like quite a high number of kilometres. However, if I’m doing really well with the challenge, I may increase the total later on.

I’ve also agreed to take on the task of helping out at a local music festival next summer.

Finally, we have even more new challengers!!

Please welcome:

Piglet in Portugal


seashell by the seashore

Things ‘n’ Stuff

Adventures in Mediocrity

Shell Louise

the Thought Palette

Fi’s Mutterings and Mumblings

The Neurologist

I always check the alarm clock.

Always, always, always.

Every single night, before I go to bed.

Without fail.

(Well, except for that time two months ago. But honestly, that was a one-off.) Until last night.

I’d written up a full and comprehensive list of all the medicines I’ve taken and all the treatments I’ve tried against this blasted headache.

I’d jotted down the names of all the medicines I regularly use.

I’d made a note of the date of the operation, and therefore the date on which my headache had started.

I’d rummaged around and set aside the x-rays taken in the summer.

I’d checked off all the dates and times in my diary, that I would not be available.

I’d worked out bus times, not wanting to drive on potentially frozen roads and ensured my referral was in my bag.

I’d even popped the address and phone number of the doctor in my purse, just in case something happened on the way.

Then I went for an early night and I forgot to check the alarm clock which as it turns out happened to be set for 30 minutes after my appointment time.

So near, but so far…

I think I have mentioned before, that I happen to be a lucky person. And luckily for me, my husband’s bladder persuaded him to wake up early.

Meaning in actual fact, I managed to be only ten minutes late and thus permitted to still see the doctor.

You know, the neurologist I’d booked to see weeks ago, who has a really good reputation?

Except – it wasn’t him.

No. He was off. (To see the wizard? Santa? Who knows!!)

So, I saw a stand-in.

Who, and I have to be honest here, installed absolutely no confidence in me.

She couldn’t work the computer. Had to look up every single medicine in a book. Just assumed it was a migraine. Didn’t look at my x-rays. And examined me by telling me to stand up, walk a couple of steps and then touch my nose. After that, she proceeded to hit my knee with a hammer and pressed on my neck for a couple of seconds.

Although my GP had been reassuring me about the necessity of being sent for a CT scan, the stand-in insisted it wouldn’t be required, as I’d already had one, seven years ago!

Without asking me what I’m stressed about or what my situation is, she seemed to think it could all be solved with a brisk ten minute walk (importantly: at exactly the same time each day) and a good sleep.

To cover herself she gave me a ‘prescription’ for six sessions of physiotherapy on my neck (even though it hadn’t hurt when she’d touched it). But on taking the paperwork to the physiotherapy centre, I discovered the form contained so many mistakes, it was invalid.

But not-to-worry. She said I should come back in the new year.

When the receptionist offered me an appointment with her or an alternative doctor on two different dates, I went with my gut instinct and said, “Anyone else will do!”

The exceptional news is: I think the acupuncture, or something is working, I still have a headache every day, but mostly in the distance or for just a small part of the day. 😀

Gee Thanks!

Some days I think I’ve lost my sense of humour. But then I have an adorable thirteen-year-old who says things like, “Mum, are you sure you don’t want to lie down after this – you look really crappy!”

And then I remember how to laugh.

And how to shake my head.

And how to cry.

I still have the damn headache!

My five-year-old, informed me in her matter-of-fact way that she thinks, “It likes me.”

You may well imagine, that that did not make me feel any better.

What has made me feel a lot better though, are all your lovely comments and emails. Thank you so much. You stopped me feeling sorry for myself, well, for a few minutes anyway, and encouraged me to think positively, which can only be described as a good thing.

A lot of you have been asking, so I thought I’d give you a quick update. Yes, I still have a headache, it’s been over five weeks now. Groan. Groan. I’ve been back and forth to the doctors and am now trying acupuncture, which I think is helping, slowly. But as it’s been so long, I’m off to see a neurologist on Wednesday. Hopefully he’ll tell me my brain is still intact and can figure out a way to get rid of the pain.

I would so like to spend Christmas ungrumpy!!

Dear Akasha…

Dear Akasha,

You are, it has to be said, a very lovely and sweet four-year-old, but there are a couple of very important things I should probably tell you.

When Mummy (yes, me) has the headache from hell, she does not really want to have a torch shone in her eyes. Yes, I know you were playing at being the doctor. And honey, I know you only wanted to ‘fix me’.

And I am also aware, that mummy lying around on the sofa for eight consecutive days is pretty boring. But still, I have no desire to play ‘weddings’. Or have shawls wrapped around my head. Or to teach you to play ‘chesst’. Or to be grandma to your realistically crying doll.

I do appreciate your kind sentiment, hauling my head around to ram a cushion under it while scratching the zip down the back of my neck. But I’m a little tender at the moment, precious.

Normally, I wouldn’t mind my body being swathed in pillows but darling, I have a headache and it’s 28°C in the shade.

And I know you’re fed up now, but I’m really too delicate to go outside and catch some rays.

You’re very kind, however, the doctor already removed all of my earwax. And you do actually scare me a bit with that cotton bud…

… As did the small fluffy dog, you lovingly placed in my bed, so I wouldn’t be alone. So sweet, I just hadn’t expected it. Resulting in me almost bumping the ceiling with my damaged head. Did you forget that I sleep with Papa Bear?

But hey, Akasha, my littlest princess I really love that you came back from the supermarket, armed with my favourite flowers.

Thank you honey!

Will always adore you,